Teacher: A Human

By: Aldi Rizal Isnaeni

“…. my least favourite thing about being a teacher is that sometimes people (school boards, fellow teachers, students) forget that we are human.”

Throughout my experience as a private school teacher, my least favourite thing about being a teacher is that sometimes people (school boards, fellow teachers, students) forget that we are human. With such a low payment, we are burdened with a huge responsibility: “to make the children of the nation smart.” I’m not going to bark about how underpaid teachers are (in this case, non-government employee teachers) because this issue seems so cliché, so pressing, yet so little attention.

Herein, I do not intend to attack the unfairness of our education system. I’m writing to defend the teacher’s core identity, a human.

As a human, we teachers have feelings. We can feel emotion, from resentment to sadness to joy. Sadly, it seems like the world rarely acknowledges our feeling for the sake of so-called “professionalism.” Here, I’m going to share three personal stories of mine about teachers as humans within three themes: (1) respect; (2) protection; and (3) love.


Is it too much to ask if we want to be respected? Mutual respect, I mean, that’s a basic human social contract. However, there are days when I stumble on my desk, thinking, is this job really worth doing? The school feels like an amoral dystopia.

When I call my students’ names, they just turn their heads as if their ears are stuck on an AirPod. When I tell them to write, they complain about being exhausted. When I whisper to them, they talk back even louder. When I explain, they are just busy with their smartphones. Sometimes I question my worth.

I admit I am far from being a good and competent teacher. It is not that I’m not trying hard enough to get their attention, but it’s more like they don’t want my presence. They are happy when the teacher does not attend the classroom. They probably do not even care why.


Many students are frequently absent from class. Who is to blame?


The teachers are blamed for not being disciplined enough or not being creative enough to create an exciting classroom, or their characters are not likeable, good-looking and attractive to students. Maybe the former is true, but the thing is: we are trying. Yes, maybe the outcome is not good enough, but teaching is not the only thing we care about.

We teach while thinking about how to pay the bill because, for example, we have not been paid for three consecutive months (that is normal, we never exactly know nor expect the payday). And who would be responsible when we loan some money from loan sharks? Who’s going to protect us? God, of course, but is there anyone in school who cares about our welfare?


Some people think it is ridiculous to talk about teachers’ mental health because they think teachers are normal and healthy. They are smart because they would not become a teacher if they were not. As people assume we’re smart, they think we always know how to deal with everything, including our emotions.

I remember discovering a video on Instagram about a Chinese teacher who looks not okay, but he makes a fake smile before entering the classroom door. That is me! and a lot of other teachers around the world. I think we deserve an Oscar for this incredible skill of hiding our emotions.

In this writing, I’m not proposing that teachers be worshipped, celebrated, or admired. We only want to be seen as human beings with feelings and emotions. We want some mercy for our wrongdoing and some appreciation for our achievements. We could make the best teaching methodology in the classroom, but we are not immune from failure. We want to be understood as an imperfect creature.

By who?

By everyone involved in the education industry. We want to be respected by our students, protected by our schools, loved by fellow teachers, school staff, and local government. We tend to be criticised for our lack instead of encouragement from each other. We need support and constructive feedback from students for our teaching. We need guidance and appreciation from schools to be a better teacher.

We feel so alone in the way of making children of the nation bright. It’s tough to be a teacher right now. Last night I heard that when Japan was bombed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first thing they were looking for was teachers. Honestly, I begin to doubt the story. Maybe they were looking for a ‘teacher’ in the form of a machine, not a human, because, in reality, people demand so much from teachers, but they hardly give the slightest credit to us, such as respect, protection and love.

About the author

Aldi Rizal Isnaeni or Aldi is a young teacher at a vocational high school in Kab. Tasikmalaya. Aldi graduated from Universitas Siliwangi majoring in English Education. You can reach out to him at aldirizalisnaeni@gmail.com or follow his Instagram account @aldigale.

“Humanising teaching means understanding for understanding is the only capability mastered by Homo Sapiens among animals on the planet.” – Aldi Rizal Isnaeni

Disclaimer: #HumanisingEducation only owns the right to publish. The author is responsible for the content.

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